Throughout the process of applying and semi-automating the methodology used for this initiative, the team recognized the need to ground the work in existing approaches and methods.  This means also taking advantage of information that is already being collected.  One of the most commonly captured information around projects are indicators, commonly used by development practitioners to track progress of ongoing initiatives.  But how is this linked to learning and  visualizing experiences?Indicators act as “proxies” to measure whether the given actions have reached their agreed objectives or goals.  (This is often underpinning the Monitoring and Evaluation approaches, typically using a Results Based Framework model).  The advantage of indicators is that one can measure, track, and see trends of the specific information over time.  However, their limitation is that they do not take into account the context that influences the action. This is essential in order to learn from the work we are doing across different contexts.   So even if we see a trend in indicators, we do not necessarily have the data to explain why.  Therefore, the team has re-framed the work around the concept of “contextualizing indicators.” This means we aim to simultaneously measure, track and visualize trends of the contextual elements surrounding a given indicator (alongside the indicator information itself).  This includes the who is doing what, where, when – as well as the social and cultural influences on these actors and actions.


With this realization, the team decided to incorporate indicators into the visualization platform being developed to semi-automate the methodology.  What does this mean?  Now indicators can be input directly into the system and linked to specific actions and actors.  This provides the opportunity to not only see trends across indicators (that is, which actions have similar indicators), but also see the contextual information surrounding a given indicator.  Hopefully this will allow us greater insight into why and how certain indicators are being met or not being met so we can more effectively learn from our experience.


A brief is currently being developed, which dives into this concept in more depth, linking it to the methodology itself and the approaches being taken.  This will be finalized in early 2016.